The last time a member of the Colorado Avalanche graced the cover of EA SPORTS flagship hockey video game was in 2004. Is the Avalanche purposely getting snubbed at this point?
I can hear the keyboards of the Colorado Avalanche fans now, everyone is searching the EA SPORTS NHL 2004 cover. Well, I’m glad you are because that is the last time an Avalanche player would be the cover athlete for the NHL series of video games, and he wasn’t even their initial cover athlete.
On September 22nd, 2003 EA sports released NHL 2004 for Playstation 2 and Xbox systems with cover athlete Dany Heatley of the Atlanta Thrashers on the cover. However, on December 2nd EA Sports decided to remove Heatley due to a fatal car accident that he was involved in that resulted in the death of his teammate Dan Snyder. So EA decided to change the cover athlete as a sign of respect to the parties involved and replaced Heatley with a *little-known center from the Colorado Avalanche, Joe Sakic.
Now “Every day” Joe Sakic was not the only Colorado Avalanche representative in the EA Sports series. In 1997 Peter Forsberg was awarded the cover athlete for the upcoming NHL 98 game and they also gave him the in-game rating of a perfect 100 to add to the cover honor.
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With the new NHL 21 game coming out in October this seemed like the year for our very own Nathan MacKinnon to break the 17-year absence. With Nate finding himself in not only the Hart Trophy conversation but also one of the Lady Byng Trophy finalists this seemed like MacK’s ascension into the cover athlete and mainstream notoriety. With all the accolades and success that Nathan has found in this season, EA Sports decided that the cover athlete should be none other than…Alex Ovechkin.
That’s right this would make Alexander Ovechkin’s second appearance on the cover of the NHL franchise. While people are making the argument that this is EA giving Ovi a tribute to his hall of fame career, I ask the question….get ready for it…Why Not Us? Nathan MacKinnon is one of the top names in the league, on one of the top teams in the league, and night after night he is a human highlight machine. Why wouldnt he be a poster boy for the game?
With MacK’s peer group of Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews already securing the coveted cover spot in NHL 18 and NHL 20 respectfully, when will it be Nate’s turn? The last time “The Great 8” was on the cover was NHL 07, sandwiched between Vincent Lecavalier (NHL 06) and Eric Staal on (NHL 09). Since 2013, the year MacKinnon was drafted, the players to grace the cover are as followed Brodeur, Bergeron, Toews, Tarasenko, McDavid, Subban, Matthews, and now Ovechkin. What else does Nate have to do to secure a place on the cover?
When it comes to a youthful,talented,and relentless leader and a face for the future I can think of no better option than Nathan MacKinnon. With the NHL desperately trying to appeal to younger fans and aquire a fresh fanbase going into this new decade, EA Sports whiffed on their chance to represent the youthful stars of the game.
To those who say Ovechkin deserves the cover to observe his career, how many covers of the EA Sports NHL series can you find for Patrick Roy, Dominick Hasek, Mark Messier, Ray Bourque, Sidney Crosby, or Wayne Gretzky (NHL slapshot for the Wii doesn’t count)? The answer is zero. I would have easily accepted the selection of a Nick Suzuki, Seth Jones, Sebastian Aho, or Carter Hart to welcome a more diverse and youthful face for the “Next Generation” of NHL games to further the efforts of equality for the league.
Who knows the thought process behind EA deciding against MacKinnon for this years cover, but I know Ovechkin will enjoy the game’s release in October because I think Nate and the Colorado Avalanche will be busy in the bubble around that time.